No good has ever come from being lazy, so you better grab that cleanser and moisturizer if you want to keep a neat, matte, healthy look.
Male skin has its own characteristics, mostly two: oily skin and facial hair. I understand that most of us are always in a rush and may not pay enough attention to the health and care of our skin. That is why here are six easy steps for those who have oily or mixed skin types (though some steps may also apply to dry skin) to keep that skin looking firm and matte.
Male biology has the tendency to produce bigger quantities of testosterone. This makes our skin cells produce more sebum, which results in the infamous oily or mixed skin type: shiny forehead, blackheads, and pimples. Also, we subject ourselves to things like shaving, which peels off a tiny little layer of our skin regularly (or daily, if we have the lumberjack beard type). Also, products targeted toward men are more aggressive, since the cosmetic industry puts stronger fragrances and larger quantities of chemicals in “male” products. So, better take notes because we are going to make a list of all those things we are missing.
Note to yourself: If you suffer from acne or your skin is prone to get pimples, it would be better if you consult a specialist. Remember that self-medication of any kind is rather dangerous (it may make it worse in this case) since you might require special treatment in order to cure or control this skin condition.
1.- Cleanse your skin.
Photo: Lucas Sankey
The golden rule: sulfate-free products. Sodium laureth sulfate is a very irritating ingredient that causes dryness, redness, itchiness, and a higher production of sebum. Most men feel more comfortable using “male" products, but this is just the laziest form of marketing: “Make it blue and make it smellier and rougher for men. That'll sell”. Yes, sexism is very much a thing in marketing, so be smart and don't fall for it. It is good for you, your skin, and your wallet.
What do we need? Well, here we are looking for gentle, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free cleansers. It could be either gel or foam (or creamy ones as long as you have very, very dry skin). Trust me, they work way better than the “manly, rough” ones. Use lukewarm water, so you can remove the oil more easily. You don’t need a brush or sponge, just use your fingertips and go gently. Pay special attention to your facial hair: your beard, eyebrows, and lashes need cleansing too. Also, this is a twice-a-day thing, in the morning and before bed.
2.- Is toner a thing?
Photo: Mustafa Ezz
Yes, it is. Toner is highly important in your daily routine since it is the ultimate step for cleansing. It cleans the cleanser. Nonsense? Not at all. Cleansers leave residues that create this feeling of tightness after washing your face. This may be misunderstood as a rather effective cleanse, but in fact the feeling is created by dryness caused by the residues of your cleanser (and also from using hot water or a sulfate-based soap). This should be done every time you wash your face, so look for toners that are alcohol-free or micellar water. After cleansing and shaving, use toner, for it will remove soap and shaving cream residue, leaving your pores perfectly clean. Applying it is super easy: grab a cotton pad, pour some toner on it, and then caress that fellow in the mirror: forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, and let’s not forget the front and back of your neck. Let it dry (it’s just a matter of seconds) and you’ll be halfway there.
3.- Sunscreen? But I’m not going to the beach.
Photo: Trevor Docter
This step shall be done during sunlight only. I can bet that no matter where you look - vloggers, dermatologists, or the friend of a friend will always state that the step you should never forget is to apply sunscreen. Always apply it. Always. How to use it will depend on what kind of sunscreen you get, though I recommend the chemical ones. Why? These dry faster and won’t make you shine like Pennywise in the summertime. Keep in mind that you should get those that are hypoallergenic and for sensitive skin, otherwise they could cause irritation.
Most people apply it wrong because they tend to do it right after moisturizing. Actually, sunscreen creates a chemical reaction in your skin, so you need those pores clean and ready to absorb it. SPF (Solar Protection Factor) should be above 30, and yes, dark skin also needs sunscreen. Here you will need to let it dry for 15 to 20 minutes. So, apply and let it dry as you get dress up or while you do your hair. Don’t forget to rub some on your ears and neck since these areas are very prone to develop skin conditions (and re-apply if you are going to be highly exposed to the sun).
4.- Hydration is key.
Photo by @officialwynstonshannon
Water-based moisturizers either in gel or emulsion are quite suitable (stay away from creams unless you have dry skin). Water moisturizers will not give you that creamy feeling on your face and will not clog your pores. They are absorbed fast, last long, and will prevent a shiny forehead. There are plenty of options in the market for you to try. Just remember these have to be hypoallergenic and fragrance free. This is the last step of your basic daily routine and you should apply it in the morning and at night.
5.- Lip balm is not just a winter thing.
Lips also need to be taken care of and not only during winter time. Look for products that suit you best. I prefer brands that focus on hydration, so let’s keep trying to avoid that oily feeling that is sometimes produced by coconut or cocoa butter products. Instead, look for organic products or those made from paraffin and that have SPF.
6. Exfoliate and shave but only when needed.
You should exfoliate twice a week, and you shouldn't expose yourself to the sun immediately after. Exfoliation also depends on how often you shave. If you shave daily, then I recommend that you do it before shaving, since this will make the razor run more smoothly. You have to find the right shaving cream, one designed for sensitive skin. The right moment for you to do it is after the shower, since your pores are open and your facial hair has become softer.
Shaving will depend on how thick your beard is: if you have thin facial hair, use razors with one or two blades, since more blades create more irritation. For thicker beards, you may want to trim it first and then shave. Never, NEVER, EVER, shave against the grain. This will produce major irritation and will clog your pores and eventually become pimples. Don’t over-shave. Pass the razor once or twice carefully. Stop applying lotion to your skin after shaving, use your toner, and follow steps 2, 3 and 4.
I cannot recommend specific skin products since each one of us has different needs and skin types. What works well for me may be awful for you. So, I recommend that you go “product hunting.” Go to department stores, ask for free samples, get one of those “ready to try” facials, or borrow products from your friends. Try them and see how your skin reacts, so you can make up your mind before purchasing the products (because skin care is an investment). Also, don’t forget that skin, like any other organ needs care from within, so include a healthy a diet, good hours of sleep every day, hydration (drinking water), and above all, NO smoking.
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